I’ve traveled a lot for the most part of my life. For the last 10 years, I made anywhere from 5 to 10 international trips a year while living abroad. It comes as no surprise that a lot of people ask me how I manage to do this. I’ve never been rich, neither do I have a rich husband. My family has never taken me to any luxury resorts, in fact, we visited the same guesthouse by the Polish seaside every year. In this post, I tell you how I afford to travel so much.
How I Could Afford to Travel Before the Blog?
Some (probably most) people might assume that I get my funding from some sort of magic sponsors. As a result, they think they’ll never be able to do what I’ve been doing – travel the world. Leave alone study abroad. I must disappoint you, but traveling hasn’t always my job. At least not from the start.
While it’s possible to be paid to travel, it’s a totally different story than being paid to travel as a blogger when you actually need to do some work, instead of sipping cocktails on the beach all day long. Despite what you may read on some well-known travel blogs, who regularly go on press trips, not all of them are being paid for it.
As for me, I started blogging in 2010, but I only opened Anna Everywhere in 2014. It became my real full-time job in 2015. However, remember that I’ve been traveling on my own since I was 16…
How Did I Travel Before I Started Blogging?
The most common assumption when you travel is that you MUST be rich. But if you buy good cosmetics or go to Starbucks on a daily basis, does anyone automatically assume that you’re rich? No. No one is also asking you who’s paying for all this, but traveling has some kind of financial stigma.
I simply always knew that I wanted to travel. Ever time I received some money for Christmas or birthday, I saved for later. While it wasn’t much, a dollar here a dollar there, and little by little it all cumulated. One would think that it’s impossible for a teenager to save that much money. I’ve never been into beauty products (did my first face mask at the age of 29 haha!) and wasn’t a fan of expensive clothes. Plus, I didn’t go out as much as my friends did.
Where I grew up, the legal age limit for work is 18. Hence, my working opportunities were limited to tutoring and anything that didn’t include being officially hired. I wrote essays for fellow classmates and I tutored younger kids. The moment I turned 18, I started working in hospitality after high school before heading to college.
In some countries (one of them I had a chance to study in), if you have good grades, you’re able to get a scholarship. Since the university is free I actually got paid to study! I was able to save more for my travels and I also found some jobs abroad. There are plenty of opportunities in this world as long as you aren’t picky. I met some people who thought that working as a waitress or bartender during college was beneath them. I strongly disagree. After all, this isn’t a career you are starting, it’s just a way to earn money.
During my postgraduate studies in the UK, I’ve always worked at a bar in the evening. With an internship on the side, I was able to buy my flights to Zimbabwe and Sri Lanka in 2010. At first, my friends couldn’t understand why I was working so much. Even more so, why I wanted to go to Zimbabwe, but I knew it was going to be an amazing experience.
I never took out any loans either. I was always able to find a way to finance my expenses by working part-time jobs. But, I’m not going to lie to you: sometimes my schedule looked like this: 8AM-3PM internship, 3:30PM-5PM classes, 5:30PM-11:45PM bartending. It wasn’t fun, but in the end, it paid off.
I recently read an article that readers are getting tired of bloggers who claim that everyone can travel. Articles such as: ‘I sold everything I owned and bought a one-way ticket’, might not be very helpful to everyone. Not all of us have something to sell. I haven’t for instance. I started from zero: no car, no house, not even a regular job at the time I started traveling.
I had no car or a house to sell, and I didn’t embark on an adventure without a plan. In fact, I recently wrote an article on why I’ll never tell you to skip college to travel.
You don’t have to sell your belonging to be able to travel. You can manage to travel by working abroad, or getting a scholarship. Europeans, for instance, can do Erasmus Mundus exchange that will pay for your expenses to study abroad.
Why Didn’t I Want to “Just Travel”?
I never had any intentions of heading on a long never-ending trip around-the-world trip. I’m generally not a big fan of these sorts of journeys (apart from the fact that I had not much to sell in order to afford it). During my travels, I saw so many young people who embarked on an adventure to figure out what they want to do and see where things will take them. Not surprisingly, none of them found the answer.
I’ve always wanted to have a backup plan. Especially, because at some point every traveler wants to stop somewhere and settle down, and I didn’t want to be left with no opportunities. It might not be in a year, maybe not in your twenties, but look at how many fellow travel bloggers get a base somewhere at some point in their lives.
Right before graduating from college, I realized that instead of spending my money on “just traveling around”, I could also use my education and internship opportunities to travel while doing something beneficial for my future at the same time.
I went to Argentina because I got an internship there, I studied and worked in the Netherlands, I taught English in Mexico. It might seem less fun than drinking and partying in hostels, but by doing what I did I had a chance to actually get to know the culture of every place I lived in. I didn’t just pass through these countries by seeing only tourist attractions (again, nothing wrong with that per se if you want to enjoy your holidays!).
As a result, I was always earning money and my piggy bank of savings was used towards short trips in the meantime. And I still partied a little 😉
My method of traveling wasn’t very unique or innovative. Many people do it and you can as well. Your situation may be different, but if you really want to travel, you can always find a way to do it and even save money on the side.
Did I Ever End Up With No Money?
YES, because I’m a huge risk-taker. In 2011, due to some personal reasons, I had to leave Mexico and move back to Europe. Living on a Mexican salary in Mexico wasn’t a problem, but saving money to live elsewhere was a challenge.
As a result, I got back to London with only 80 GBP to my name. I stayed at my friend’s house for a month, quickly found two jobs, and worked day and night for the first month. Thanks to that, I rented my own place and lived pretty comfortably. 2 months later I flew to Rio de Janeiro for the Carnival.
I’m not saying that you need to always work extremely hard to travel, but if you set your goals and work towards them, everything will work out.
I’m actually very glad I came to London with no money, as it made me more confident. Now I know that I can dig myself out of any situation.
How Did My Blog Help Me Financially With My Travels?
I recently read a discussion between travel bloggers about the possibilities of sponsored travel. What I read there was horrifying. A lot of bloggers demand to receive everything for free all the time like they’re at least a royal family and refuse to pay even a little bit for anything.
I must agree with an article Liz Carlson wrote that unfortunately, the gimme attitude has become a common thing for travel bloggers. As I’ve done an extensive amount of traveling before the blog, I don’t always write about sponsored trips. Therefore you can find sponsored and not sponsored content on my blog (these days most isn’t sponsored by choice).
I can also recommend a bunch of excellent blogs that won’t feature the next stay at Radisson Blue or touring Phuket beaches again, but can give you tips on hiking in Ethiopia, visiting Kyrgyzstan or any other less Instagrammable spots.
Do I Make Money From My Blog?
Since November 2014 I’ve become a full-time blogger. Ironically, not by choice, but since I was traveling and leading a nomadic lifestyle I just had to make my blog a proper business. Before you make a ton of money from your blog, there are tons of side things you can do as a blogger: freelance social media consulting, implementing affiliate links, Google Adsense, sponsored posts and many other things. Read more about monetizing a blog and how do I make money these days here.
HOW TO START A TRAVEL BLOG? Find out HERE.
The honest truth – I never have the money I need to travel, but I buy the ticket anyway 🙂